WordPress Lab Exercise: Users, Roles, Gravatars

In a new WordPress installation, we will explore Users, User Roles, Gravatars, Comments, Spam Solutions, and more.

In this exercise, we’re going to use a number of features that require a WordPress.com account. This account is different from that for your own self-hosted WordPress site.

So if you don’t have a WordPress.com account, please go sign up for one.

Gravatars, Users, & User Roles

Once you have a WordPress.com account, go to gravatar.com and login with it.

Gravatar (which stands for globally recognized avatar) will let you associate an  icon with that email address. This will make the icon show up next to the users names in the list of Users in the dashboard. It will also, depending on the theme, show up next to comments you make while logged in there or at other sites.

Use the Mac program Picture Booth to take a picture of yourself, then upload it to the Gravatar site. Don’t worry if the picture isn’t perfect. When the exercise is done, you can always delete it or deactivate it at the site. Or use Illustrator or Photoshop and make an image to represent you.

If you go to the Users section of the Dashboard, you should now (or soon: it can take a few minutes) see the gravatar beside your name.

Make Some New Users

In the next part of this exercise, you will make a number of users for your site. So we can keep things straight in our minds, we will use the same password for all the users: I’ll give you one in class.

For the email addresses of your new users, please download this file and use the ones listed in it.

Hopefully, you agree that this is not something to do in the real world, because it’s insecure to reuse passwords. We’re doing it here because it’s convenient for learning purposes.

Make a new user with a user name of “eddieeditor”. For First Name, use “Eddie” and for Last Name use “Editor.” Set the user role of eddie to “Editor.”

Make a new user with a user name of “annaauthor”. For First Name use “Anna” and for Last Name use “Author.” Set the user role of anna to “Author.”

Finally, name a new user with a user name of “conniecontributor”. For first name use “Connie” and for Last Name use “Contributor.”

In sequence log in as each of these users. Hint: you should do this in a different browser. That way you can stay logged in as your administrator in one browser and log in as another user in the the other browser.

Observe how the dashboard changes with each user. From this, what can you deduce about how do the roles of admin, editor, author, and contributor differ?

Make a post as each user: eddieeditor, annaauthor,  and conniecontributor.

What can a contributor do? What can an editor do that an author can’t?

Change conniecontributor’s account status to subscriber. Login as her. What has changed?

User Display Names

  1. Figure out how to get the name of “annaauthor” to display on posts, pages, and comments as just her first name.
  2. Give eddie the nickname “Fast Eddie Editor” and get that to display as his public handle.
  3. Make conniecontributor’s name display as both first and last name.


The default setup for WordPress is to allow comments, so let’s explore how they work “out of the box.”

In another browser, login to to the site as a subscriber. Comment on one of the posts.When prompted enter the email address you used to register that person’s gravatar. Logout again, then login as a different user and comments on the same post.

Once you’ve submitted your comments, go into your ADMIN window and review them. Approve both.

See if your gravatars show up next to the comment.

Now, make another comment on the site. This time we’ll pretend you’ve said something inappropriate (maybe you said that Nickelback is a good band).

Once that user’s “inappropriate” comment has been submitted to your site, figure out how to delete it.

Set Up Akismet Anti-Spam Plugin

One of the deeply annoying parts of having a site with commenting enabled is that you will very likely attract a lot of comment spam.

WordPress, however, has an automated way of dealing with this stuff.

Go to akismet.com and use your WordPress.com account to sign up for the akismet service. For a personal site, like this one obviously, you can use the free option.

Now go to the Plugins area of the Dashboard and figure out how to enable Akismet.

Now try submitting an obviously spammy comment.  ( This might not work in the Langara lab ).

In other words, see if you can trigger the Akismet filter. I’m not sure this will work so soon after setup of Akismet, but let’s give it a try.

Ultimately, if you are going to use WordPress comments, you need Akismet.

FINALLY, figure out how to turn off commenting on all posts—new ones and old ones.



Install and activate the JetPack plugin. This, typically, also requires a WordPress.com account.

Figure out how to add Sharing buttons to each post.

Figure out how to turn Galleries into “fancy galleries.”

Figure out how to add more Widgets via Jetpack.

Enable the Portfolio and Testimonial Custom Post Types. Make a couple versions of each, then figure out how to display them on your site.